Return to Work Programs: Job Descriptions

Upon assessing an injury/illness, physicians sometimes delay their consent to allow an employee to continue working because an accurate picture of the individual’s job is not available. Therefore, preparing job descriptions for various positions in advance of an incident is important. This information will enable the doctor to understand the employee’s customary work environment and the types of physical activities normally performed throughout the day. Recommendations about the conditioning necessary to prepare the employee for rejoining the workforce will be easier for the physician to provide when this information is readily available.

Depending upon the nature of the industry, a job description can be simple or complex, general or specific. Various components may include a task list and physical activity assessment as well as an analysis of equipment and environmental factors that may or may not apply to the business. Ideally, job descriptions should be prepared prior to the onset of an injury/illness so that an immediate transfer can be made to the attending physician at that time.   However, this information can still be prepared and provided after the claim is reported and still have value.

For help in identifying duties specific to an industry, consult the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook as a resource. This reference is available via the Internet at and at many public libraries.